Avodah Zarah, Chapter 5, Mishnah 4

Avodah Zarah, Chapter Five, Mishnah Four

 

Introduction

This mishnah is a direct continuation of the previous mishnah.  In it we learn of two more situations in which a Jew leaves casks of wine with a non-Jew and we must decide whether or not the non-Jew is suspected of having opened the cask and removed some of the wine, thereby making it forbidden.  Again, there is a dispute over how long the Jew may be absent before we suspect that the non-Jew will attempt to open the cask.  Since we explained this dispute yesterday we will not explain it again here.  

 

Mishnah Four

1)                     If [a Jew] left his wine in a wagon or on a ship while he went along a short cut, entered a town and bathed, it is permitted.

a)                                 But if [the Jew] informed him that he was going away [and he was absent a length of time] sufficient for the other to bore a hole [in a jar], stop it up and [the sealing clay] to become dry, [the wine is prohibited].

b)                                 Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel says: [a length of time] sufficient for him to open a cask,  put a new stopper on and [the new stopper] to become dry.

2)                     If [a Jew] left a non-Jew in his shop, although he kept going in and out, [the wine there] is permitted.

a)                                 But if [the Jew] informed him that he was going away [and he was absent a length of time] sufficient for the other to bore a hole [in a jar], stop it up and [the sealing clay] to become dry, [the wine is prohibited].

b)                                 Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel says: [a length of time] sufficient for him to open a cask,  put a new stopper on and [the new stopper] to become dry.

 

Explanation

Section one:  In this situation the Jew again leaves the non-Jew with his wine, this time to make a quick excursion into the city.  Note that he uses a short cut into the city.  The fact that he is going and returning quickly will make the non-Jew fear getting caught should he open the cask.  Therefore the wine is permitted.  The Talmud teaches that if the mishnah had not included this scenario, we might have thought that since the non-Jew could take the wagon or boat and go to another place and there open the wine, that the wine is forbidden.  The mishnah teaches that even in this case we are not concerned.  The wine is only forbidden should the Jew tell the non-Jew that he is going and when he will return.

Section two:  In this scenario the Jew leaves the non-Jew in the store.  Although the Jew is constantly going in and out of the store, and frequently leaving the non-Jew alone with the wine, the wine is permitted.  Again, as long as he doesn’t tell him that he is leaving and when he is returning, the wine is permitted.  The Talmud teaches that if the mishnah had not included this scenario, we might have thought that since the non-Jew could close the door to the store and then do what he wishes, that in this case the wine is forbidden.  The mishnah therefore teaches that the wine is nevertheless permitted.

 

 

 

Questions for Further Thought:

·                      Section one:  What do you think the ruling would be if the Jew did not take the short cut into the city?  Would the wine nevertheless be permitted?